The cost of living crisis has been going on for too long with working people now £1,600 per year worse off on average.
Although the Government claim that everything is fixed, many areas are struggling and are yet to see any upturn at all. Our area has the strength and will to grow economically if only it was given the means and the opportunity.
The Government is incapable of dealing with the long-term economic challenges we face because it’s committed to a race to the bottom built on low pay, low skills, low prospects and low productivity.
The way to make a real difference in people’s lives is to make sure the economy works for people. We need to build a highly skilled, higher wage economy. This would mean more apprenticeships and higher skilled jobs in sectors like construction trades, health and caring professions and the technology sector.
This can’t just be imposed from Westminster, real change needs local people to make the difference and create the jobs we need. If city and county regions became engines of growth we could develop our own economic strategies, clearly focused on the creation of well-paid, highly-skilled jobs for people in our area.
Giving new city and county regions the power to keep any additional business rates income they can generate and allowing them to use it to invest locally in measures to boost growth, such as new housing and infrastructure, and giving local workers the skills and training they need to succeed.
Expanding high-quality apprenticeships for school-leavers in science, technology, engineering and maths would equip our young people for the high-quality jobs of the future. Those that will drive these big changes should be fully involved so local businesses could be given a direct say in how to grow the local economy and what the priorities should be.
The cost of living crisis is far from over. Too many people on lower and middle incomes are still locked out of the economic recovery and are unlikely to feel the benefits under this Government.
By unleashing the potential of our cities and regions so they can be the drivers of economic growth, we can tackle the cost of living crisis and ensure we all benefit from our future economic prosperity.